Members of GMB and Unite gather at Westminster as government pushes ahead with plans to close factories for disabled workers
Devastated Remploy workers from across the UK yesterday lobbied Parliament over governments plans to close the factories.
It is the latest protest in a series of events that have taken place across the UK in anger at the government’s decision shut 36 of the 54 remaining sites and condemn 1,518 disabled workers to a lifetime on benefits.
The government says disabled workers should be in mainstream employment but with 2.65 million people unemployed in the UK, the jobs just aren’t there for them. Also, very often, when disabled workers are in mainstream employment they suffer excessive levels of bullying and harassment.
Unite national officer Sally Kosky said: “The savings made by closing Remploy will be far outweighed by the costs of a lifetime on benefits that the workers now face. Add on costs for ill-health, depression, social isolation, loss of self-respect and dignity for disabled people who will never work again.
“No government promises for additional help to find these people work will make any difference – 85% of disabled people made redundant by Remploy in 2008 are still out of work today.”
GMB national secretary Phil Davies said: “This lobby of Parliament and the demonstrations around the country are a measure of the massive public support for continued funding of the Remploy factories.
“It is now clear that this government will use the money that was earmarked to support the direct employment of disabled people to privatise its’ Employment Services business. It is outrageous that the government can take away the jobs of disabled workers the length and breadth of the country to carry out an ideologically motivated privatisation.”
Remploy was established in 1945 as part of the new welfare state, providing employment for injured soldiers and today is still a workplace for men and women returning from wars around the world.
Unite regional official for Remploy, Kevin Hepworth, said: “We expect hundreds of people, workers from Remploy and members of the public to attend these demonstrations. We have received a huge number of telephone calls from disabled people who are concerned that their family members and members of their community will be denied this type of support in the future. We call on the government to honour its’ commitment given less than a year ago that no disabled worker would be made compulsory redundant in Remploy.”
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